The 60 Best Records of 2021 So Far
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It has been a wild first half of 2021. Vaccines, a new president, live music returning, and an avalanche of releases that were delayed from 2020. In a couple of days, it will be the NYC mayor election: the largest ranked choice vote in US history (vote Wiley pls). 2021 has also been an especially tough time to be a music blog, but we don’t do this because its easy. We do it because its important, helpful and occasionally fun, and also because we just love music so fucking much. That said, we wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for all of our Patreon supporters, and everyone who enjoys and shares our work. That’s what keeps the site online and the internet wires full of juice.
Nothing on this list was “assigned” and it is totally unranked, so what you have here is purely great music recommendations delivered direct to you by our staff of trained music fans who would never steer you wrong. Take a look at the list and a listen to the playlist (at the top and bottom of each page) and you will find all the gems you had missed.
Without further ado, here is our list of the Best Records of 2021 so far:
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Another Michael – New Music and Big Pop
It’s shocking that this is Another Micheal’s first LP. Considering the many beautiful EPs that the band has released over the years, the band has only built on that on New Music and Big Pop. Reflecting on the small moments of day-to-day life, Another Micheal has created an album that feels familiar and accessible. Letting the instruments speak for themselves, the stellar arrangements allow for room to breathe between the notes. The band has created something both cohesive and dynamic, a great debut LP for a strong songwriting team. It’s beautifully crafted, earnest, and has moved me to tears simply from the angelic harmonies that braid themselves into a few songs. This is an album that you listen to with the lyrics in front of you, reliving tiny moments that songwriter Michael Doherty has somehow pulled from your own memories and made them clearer and brighter with his words. It is moving, majestic, and timeless. – Sarah Knoll and Jami Fowler
The Antlers – Green to Gold
What a return for The Antlers made with Green to Gold. Their first album in seven years, it’s something of a back-to-basics record for the band. It’s a pivot away from the hefty post-rock grandeur of then-swansong Familiars and towards an airier, Americana-influenced sound. It feels like a rebirth for the band from the very first twinkling notes of “Strawflower,” and it’s a perfect soundtrack to the warming of the weather. The Antlers’ original three-album run is one of the most impressive (and most heart-wrenching) entries in the American indie rock canon, and with Green to Gold, it looks like the band plans on keeping up that streak. – Zac Djamoos
Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams
Arlo Park’s long-awaited debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams opens with the British singer-songwriter speaking over a soft, tranquil beat. It’s a conversational, laid-back start to an LP that radiates cool, calm, and connected energy. But while it may sound easy and breezy, Collapsed In Sunbeams centers around mental health, and the struggle Parks and her friends have face emotionally, from the good, to pain, heartbreak, and depression. It’s the type of album you can put on and zone out to or closely enjoy, finding new nuggets of relatability with each repeated listen. – Jordan Snowden
Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram
The Alchemist’s newest collaboration, with New York duo Armand Hammer (billy woods and ELUCID), is a captivating, dark mix of cerebral lyrics and hypnotic production sprinkled with horn hits and piano lines, enveloped in a thick cloud of weed smoke. The duo—and slate of guest rappers—sound at ease, as they casually spit lines like “bottom feeders toasting grappa / basic, penne alla vodka / you order off the menu / chef handmade me latkes” and the more introspective “men wrack our brains over past deeds / Indeed the ground’s cold but the bones not deep.” Interludes about hypnosis, past life experiences, and show business connect the tunes creating continuous flow through the record that peaks at the sunny California vibes and and incoming tide that introduces “Falling Out The Sky” and culminates in the loping and infectious piano line kicking off “Stonefruit,” the album’s intense finale. A record that demands multiple listens, Haram is sure to be on repeat throughout every season this year. – Aaron Eisenreich
The Armed – ULTRAPOP
Look, maybe The Armed really is composed of the collection of sometimes unreasonably fit folks who finally lent faces to the band’s unremittingly forward-thinking hardcore after several years of uncertainty. Or maybe the conspiracy theories are true and the 8-piece band that appeared for the first time fully exposed in the “ALL FUTURES” video are actors hired to deepen the lore of this strangely mysterious act. Maybe I’m actually a member of The Armed (correct). In the end, all of the fun around who exactly is The Armed is just ballyhoo, a distraction from the reality that ULTRAPOP is one of the most explosive, electrifying records of the year so far. An unbelievably loud record, ULTRAPOP sounds like the band swinging for the fences and knocking them over—from the ambitious synth-laced blitz of “AN ITERATION” giving way to the booming, gnarly “BIG SHELL,” to the cavernous, glitchy “AVERAGE DEATH.” This record is so damn invigorating. There’s a certain thrill in hearing an artist reach for the biggest, most explosive version of themselves, no matter who they are. – Jordan Walsh
Beach Bunny – Blame Game
Beach Bunny’s Honeymoon was one of the albums on constant repeat for me throughout last year. They had no right to follow it up and one-up it so quickly, but that is exactly what they did with Blame Game right at the start of 2021. The EP centers around relationships and love, providing a counterpoint to the many issues and stereotypes that plague today’s dating landscape. With a similar clever, biting lyricism and performances that have more weight than the previous album’s more airy sounds, Beach Bunny aren’t pulling any punches. – Scott Fugger
Bicycle Inn – This Time and Place Is All I’ll Ever Know
Those who liked what they heard on Bicycle Inn’s 2018 EP Opening Doors for Strangers had to wait patiently for three years before the Massachusetts-based foursome would release their debut LP. This Time and Place Is All I’ll Ever Know was worth the wait. In the interim, Declan Moloney, Noah Aguiar, Dylan Ilkowitz, and Dave Zielinski increased their mastery of loud/soft dynamics and allowed themselves to be comfortable letting a particular riff or vocal part take its time. There’s plenty of the fast guitars and anguished wails that characterized Opening Doors’ rawness, but there’s also a sense of balance and a maturity that only comes with experience. – Michelle Bruton
Black Midi – Cavalcade
The UK-based group are back with their follow-up to their debut Schlagenheim. Their sophomore LP, Cavalcade, is a chaotic symphony of experimental post-rock. The songwriting masterfully balances the multiple math-influenced instrumentals. Allowing each instrument to shine and not be too overpowered by one-another. The band really pushed the envelope further on what was already a complex sound, creating a chaotic sonic narrative that is rich with creative arrangements. – Sarah Knoll
Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
Cassandra Jenkins’ An Overview on Phenomenal Nature is uniquely dazzling. The New York songwriter’s sophomore effort examines loss and healing with a wise, unhurried cadence. The album’s seven tracks are each their own little world despite overarching themes. From the opener “Michelangelo” which patiently chugs along as Jenkins discusses loss as if talking about a phantom limb, it’s clear she’s made something special. Nothing about Nature feels rash; each strum, each synth, each adjective, is there with a specific purpose. As it progresses past the vast, cold “Crosshairs,” the swirling ephemera of “Hard Drive,” and the hushed “Hailey,” the record never falls into the trap of bleeding together – these songs are too distinct to risk that. – Eric Bennett
CHAI – WINK
NME called CHAI’s third LP a healing album of “punk goes pop,” which isn’t an exaggeration. After the Japanese punks’ prior two releases (PINK and PUNK) focused on genre-hopping from bombastic energy that crossed over from hip-hop to bubblegum riots to synth-pop, WINK pulls the reigns in for a more refined approach that gives their third release the smoothest flow to date. It relies on a sultry tone that pulls inspiration from slinkier pop to R&B to mellow out the listen. However, the sound transition doesn’t take away from what CHAI has always brought to the table: buckets of charm and positivity.
Written in the thick of the pandemic, WINK is a healing record that flips the perspective of being shut up for 18 months into something homier. Where many became stir-crazy while indoors, CHAI gave love to the home—especially in the food category. Songs like “Donuts Mind If I Do” are sugary sweet while “Salty” and “Maybe Chocolate Chips” have a tangy punch that would fit on any “Kissing Hours” playlist (if that makes sense). The album was also recorded in singer and keyboardist Mana’s kitchen where slight sounds of food-prep and daily bumblings only make the album even cozier to listen to while taking life day-by-day. I can see myself coming back to this record again and again and again throughout the rest of the year. – Hope Ankney
Cheekface – Emphatically, No
Cheekface, is the musical project of Mandy Tannen and Greg Katz, who also manages artists (including Rosie Tucker) and runs New Professor Records. With all that music industry work already on his plate, you know this band would either be Greg’s serious chance to make it big on his own, or a wild passion project that exists to get art out of his head. The band is named Cheekface, so as you would guess, it is of the passion project variety. But that doesn’t mean its not also really good. Together the pair work some magic. “Just because it’s funny doesn’t make it a joke“
What makes Cheekface special is their zany sense of humor and rapid fire, stream-of-consciousness style punchline lyrics. Kind of like if comedic bands like Diva Sweetly, Rozwell Kid, or even Weird Al, strolled onto a stage and then read through all their joke drafts in rapid succession while rocking out. “The climate changed, and I left it on read / The bees died off, and I left it on read” The combined effect is an avalanche of thoughtful non-sequenters, usually bitterly sarcastic. “Everything is OK got my old phone replaced / Now I do nothing faster than I did yesterday.”
Mitch Hedberg (the dearly departed comedian) would walk onto stage with notes and half finished jokes, sometimes quitting half way through reading one, only to turn to that moment into a joke on himself, as if to say this is all ridiculous anyway – “You didn’t get that one? It’s ok either did I, I dont know why I do it“. He suffered from anxiety and fear of failing and made that a part of his art, I believe for the better. Cheekface is like that, they have no expectations or reservations and nothing, even flopping horribly is off limits, even if that’s exactly what they fear most. The freedom to fail (and welcome those failings unashamedly) is a beautiful thing. “My hall of fame, and panic is the sport I play / We always play on Saturday” – Henderson Cole
Clearbody – One More Day
Shoegaze is alive and well in 2021, and there are few stewards carrying the torch better than Charlotte trio Clearbody. Eric Smeal, Martin Hacker-Mullen, and Seth Wesner don’t let being a three-piece stop them from crafting big-sounding, intricately layered, fuzzed-out tunes that will stop you in your tracks—and just wait until you spin them on vinyl. The depth and expansiveness of the music belies the band’s youth; though they sound plucked from another, grungier time, we should all hope they continue challenging the current musical status quo for many years to come. – Michelle Bruton
Cloud Nothings – The Shadow I Remember
Last year, in the thick of a pandemic with no end in sight, Cloud Nothings released The Black Hole Understands, a return to the breezy, off-kilter melodies of their early work like 2011’s self-titled album. It felt both refreshing and slight, demonstrating how reliable frontman/primary songwriter Dylan Baldi has become, but rarely feeling imbued with the frenetic urgency that animates the band’s most anthemic songs. The Shadow I Remember continues to refine the cleaner songwriting of the band’s last album, wooly and tuneful in equal measures.
Opener “Oslo” is a steady build into carefully controlled chaos—a common song structure in the Cloud Nothings universe—but it gets in and out in four minutes, instead of the usual six to seven minute sprawl. “The Spirit Of” deals in the effortless hooks of The Black Hole Understands, while “Nara” shows how Baldi can stretch his own format, cradling the central melody as the song ramps up toward a crescendo that never comes. It can come off like Baldi doubling down on what he knows already works, but he’s simply perfecting his craft, burrowing down into the vital center of his songs to create the most direct version of his vision. – Keegan Bradford
Citizen – Life In Your Glass World
Before Life In Your Glass World, I admittedly hadn’t listened to Citizen. A friend of mine had sent me some tracks after I told her – most of it was fine, though I recognized I probably would have been really into Youth if I had discovered it when it was on my Tumblr feed in 2013. But Life In Your Glass World is a hard swerve from their trademark emo sound. It’s 80s, it’s new-wave, it’s a little bit electronic, but most of all, it’s the best indie rock I’ve heard all year. The first few tracks on the record hold back nothing – they are full of in-your-face hooks and upbeat, danceable rock. The album flows seamlessly through a cohesive sound that experiments with different pacing and styles; standout tracks include “Death Dance Approximately,” which kicks off the album with powerful, heavy riffs, the somber, quieter “Blue Sunday” as well as the electrifying “Fight Beat.” Life In Your Glass World sounds like a record that was meticulously worked on and planned down to the last note, hoping for perfection. In this case, they got it. – Madison Van Houten
Downhaul – PROOF
Downhaul is a band who has always gotten better with every release and PROOF is no different. In the past this has meant steady, incremental growth as the band honed in on their sound. This sophomore album, however, tears it all down in order to build something completely new; a fact that makes it even more impressive. From the very first moments of the dark, almost primal, opening track, “Bury,” Downhaul makes it clear to longtime fans that they should let go of any expectations of what this record would sound like. By the end of the seven minute track, listeners old and new are fully sucked into the carefully constructed world that PROOF creates and continues to build upon as the album progresses. Much of this stems from the change in intended environment as the band seeks to expand past basements and barrooms into full-fledged club venues. After realizing the “big” moments in their past material don’t quite hit the same way in larger rooms, the band sought to bring out the space between instruments, allowing each to have their moments to shine rather than going all-in all of the time. The results are astounding, with standout parts in each song. Head banging, air drumming, and singing along at the top of your lungs are just a few of the varied reactions PROOF elicits throughout the journey. – Scott Fugger
Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
If 2020’s post-punk releases were defined by genre-eschewing maximalism, 2021’s answer to last year’s often-baffling musical extremism is a new crop of artists that find comfort in simplicity. On their long awaited full length debut, New Long Leg, South London’s Dry Cleaning strips rock to its roots, embracing no frills arrangements that allow each instrument room to shine. Vocalist Florence Shaw’s dry, randomized musings ride atop motorik grooves as fuzzy guitar parts toe the line between Television and The Cleaners From Venus. At once bookish and defiant, songs like “Scratchcard Lanyard” and “John Wick” bring to mind The Velvet Underground’s White Light White Heat, while more cacophonous tracks like “Unsmart Lady” wouldn’t feel out of place on the Trainspotting soundtrack. New Long Leg finds Dry Cleaning settling into a sound that is both uniquely singular and refreshingly traditional. While the band marches to the beat of their own drum, Dry Cleaning’s burgeoning mainstream success hints that the art rock revival may be imminent. – Ted Davis
Ducks Ltd. – Get Bleak
With standout releases by artists ranging from Jane Inc. to Bernice to PACKS, 2021 has found Toronto’s indie rock underground emerging as one of the most interesting, sonically cohesive music scenes in North America. Ducks Ltd., a duo comprised of guitarists Evan Lewis and Tom Mcgreevy, play into the musical tropes of their Canadian hometown, while simultaneously paying homage to ‘80s New Zealand punk. Get Bleak, an expanded reissue of the band’s 2019 EP, surges with the sounds of Flying Nun artists like The Bats, The Chills, and The Clean. Twee songwriting is framed by minimal production and laidback melodies. “Gleaming Spires” and the EP’s title track wouldn’t sound out of place in a surfing compilation, but more driving cuts like “Oblivion” and “Anhedonia” show that Ducks Ltd. aren’t hung up on tropical pleasantries. As someone who came of age in the heyday of Captured Tracks’ nostalgia revival, putting on Get Bleak makes me wistful for my youth, but the record never plays like a feigned antiquity. – Ted Davis
Duke Deuce – Duke Nukem
I can’t tell you how many times this year that the lyric “2020 fucked up, so we back up on that crunk shit” has been the only semblance of hope that I’ve had left. It’s one of several moments on Duke Nukem, the latest album from Memphis rapper Duke Deuce, that feels like getting a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. Featuring appearances from A$AP Ferg and Young Dolph, the fourteen tracks that make up Duke Nukem are unapologetically brash and in your face, bridging the gap between the past and present of Southern hip-hop. Songs like “SOLDIERS STEPPIN” and “DUKE SKYWALKER” felt like a much needed breath of fresh air when they dropped and 2021 could stand to use more artists like Duke Deuce.
Esther Rose – How Many Times
As a straightforward classic country album, Esther Rose’s How Many Times doesn’t break new ground musically, but there’s something about the way she dwells in the traditional sounds, making them refreshing and new. Rose’s clear voice and acoustic guitar are nicely complimented with fiddle, lap steel, and an electric guitar on lead throughout, and the band sounds great. Themes of heartbreak and new love are strewn across the record with “How Many Times,” “My Bad Mood,” “Songs Remain,” and “Are You Out There” standing out as particularly gripping tracks. Rose’s lyrics express the age-old themes in her own way like “me and my bad mood / got nothing left to lose / train jump track or a heart attack / oh anything to get over you,” and “black coffee and bacon fat / you’re an inner city lumberjack / a country boy through and through / I think that’s why I fell for you.” But it’s album closer “Without You” that is the most stunning with it’s driving beat, classic fiddle, and catchy call-and response chorus. A record I’ve had on repeat all spring, How Many Times is one of those beautifully done albums that’s equally perfect for spinning early morning with a cup of coffee as it is late at night with a glass of whiskey. – Aaron Eisenreich
Good Sleepy – everysinglelittlebit
No Sleep Records’ Chris Hansen rarely misses; the label has been a tastemaker in the emo and post-hardcore scene for years. And with Good Sleepy’s debut album everysinglelittlebit dropping this year, it’s clear No Sleep hasn’t missed a beat. Good Sleepy draws from the worlds of emo, math rock, and dream pop, all governed by an authentic DIY sensibility. You know these twinkly guitars well, but the trio—Seth Girard, Thomas Sullivan, and Ryan Duggan—manage to push beyond the boundaries of the waves of emo that have come before. Single “Sun Aside” will win over the hearts of anyone who counts American Football, Charmer, or Tiny Moving Parts among their favorite bands, but manages to sound not quite like any of them. – Michelle Bruton
Harmony Woods – Graceful Rage
I’ll always have the memory of Jamie Coletta of No Earbuds teasing a surprise album drop at midnight and knowing I had to stay up to at least see who it was. When I saw it was Harmony Woods, I decided to stay up and live-tweet my first listen. From the deep opening drum beat, I knew Graceful Rage was going to be huge. It seemed like each new song had one little moment that blew my mind. And then the next morning I found out that Bartees Strange produced it! Talk about a dream team. Even without those specific events, Graceful Rage would be memorable. It is huge. The drums, the lyricism, the standout vocal moments, and more all add up to an album with a certain energy and mindset that you can’t help but get sucked into and, despite the rollercoaster of emotions, feel empowered, hopeful, and celebratory at the end. – Scott Fugger
Hey, ily! – Internet Breath
Hey, ily deals in hyperactive chiptune, which is an incredible amount of fun, but what makes Internet Breath so remarkable is how it far it extends beyond Nintendocore. The post-Brave Little Abacus landscape of experimental/genre-hopping home recording projects often prioritizes the total effect of the collage—at times, to the detriment of the individual components. I feel like, for many bands, this leads to incoherent songs, disparate parts gruesomely sutured together. Despite the scope of Internet Breath’s influences, every element feels lived in and valuable to the song. It’s a testament to this EP’s inertia and clarity of vision that the screamo vocals submerged miles below gentle electronics and brief passages of galloping punk feel integral instead of tacked on.
In a world of emo maximalism, Internet Breath is remarkable for its pop chops, pulling as much from Hellogoodbye as from genre-bending emo contemporaries like Lobsterfight. “Don’t Talk About It (Your Weird Complex),” in particular, shows off a compelling pop croon and strong melodic sensibilities. “Pretty Boi!” has a chorus melody that stands toe to toe with anything from the pop world this year, and when the song slows down and explodes into a crushing outro of smoldering, shoegaze-adjacent guitars, it feels both ingenious and earned. – Keegan Bradford
Home Is Where – i became birds
It’s hard to imagine fifth wave emo coming to life during a period in history where we weren’t relegated to our computers. The Twitter-centric genre totters between meme and movement, and has produced a crop of bands whose humorous lyricism and powerful musicianship are divisive and perplexing. With a boisterous online presence and a sound that is as indebted to Neutral Milk Hotel as it is to Nuvolascura, Florida’s Home Is Where are the most eclectic punk band to emerge this year.
The group’s second EP, i became birds, embraces brevity, playing like an absurd-but-bitingly-personal television sketch. With lyrics about swallowing light bulbs and trespassing on vacant properties, “Long Distance Conjoined Twins” evokes Thomas Pynchon and Don Delillo as much as it does The Hotelier. Meanwhile, “L Ron Hubbard Was Way Cool” is nowhere near as edgy as its title, and centers soaring vocals on an instrumental that recalls The Bends era Radiohead. Best (and weirdest) of all, “Sewn Together from the Membrane of the Great Sea Cucumber” is an ode to canines that sounds like Black Country, New Road until it explodes into a middle section that plays like The Brave Little Abacus covering Underoath. “But look at all the dogs! / I wanna pet every puppy I see,” a powerful chorus chants until front person Brandon MacDonald breaks down into a screaming tantrum. The act’s outspoken quirk might have landed them in an algorithm with artists like Camp Trash, snow ellet, and Ogbert the Nerd, but Home Is Where’s Southern surrealism brings to mind the golden age of Elephant 6. – Ted Davis
IAN SWEET – Show Me How You Disappear
Show Me How You Disappear feels like a pivotal record for IAN SWEET. The project of Jilian Medford has been a font of excellent angular dream pop for some time now, but here those jagged edges aren’t just done with shredding guitar lines, but with lyrical barbs as well. Medford’s writing has never felt this loaded, seeing her grapple with past trauma and self forgiveness. She’s imbued the record with an eerie darkness that colors songs like “Drink the Lake” and “Power,” making them into masterpieces of glitchy, warped pop music. Watching her find inner strength as it plays on is fascinating, and empowering, to watch. – Eric Bennett
Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
I might be biased because I finished reading Crying in H Mart, the memoir by Japanese Breakfast lead singer Michelle Zauner right before Jubilee dropped, but the third album from indie rock band is my favorite one yet. Where previous albums were melancholy, sitting firmly in the lines of indie rock, Jubilee blends elements like dreamy pop, jazz, and 80s dance, creating a sense of glee… just like the album title suggests. – Jordan Snowden
Jimmy Montague – Casual Use
As the vocalist/bassist for Perspective, A Lovely Hand To Hold, Jimmy Montague can often be found in Hunter S. Thompson sunglasses and an animal print shirt held together by a scant few buttons. His solo project, however, pulls inspiration from very different 70s source material: Paul Simon, Steely Dan, and Harry Nilsson. The lush soft rock of Casual Use could feel like artifice in another’s hands, but Montague’s sincere love for his source material is evident in the gorgeous arrangements, a kind of songwriting that goes far beyond homage. Album highlight “Always You” should be enough to convince any doubters: the arrangement alone is proof that Montague is writing at the highest level. But beyond the obviously meticulous composition, the song itself is a cool breeze, all effortless hooks and tasty horns. It’s a well-worn denim jacket: it goes with everything and it feels like a dream when you throw it on. – Keegan Bradford
John the Ghost – I Only Want to Live Once
The solo project from The Maine’s John O’Callaghan, I Only Want to Live Once is full of harsh realities and conflicting emotions as we’ve waded through the pandemic for almost a year. Never giving up hope, though, the record breezes through indie pop highs and levels with a synth foundation that isn’t found in The Maine’s recent discography but fits O’Callaghan’s voice well. There is a humanizing, here, of every emotion attached to the last fifteen months that has been hard for many musicians to fully capture. It acts as a personal mantra, and it only solidifies that O’Callaghan has the verve to stand on his own in a fleshed out sound that isn’t too detached from The Maine’s environment. – Hope Ankney
Julien Baker – Little Oblivions
The new Julien Baker album is the perfect progression from her previous work. She has matured as an artist, incorporating drums to add a fresh element to her music, while retaining her signature powerful vocals and beautiful lyrics. The album starts off with “Hardline”, a song for which it’s highly recommended that you drive on the highway with the windows down and fully rock out to the bridge, screaming, “You say it’s not so cut and dry. It isn’t black and white. What if it’s all black, baby, all the time?” The album hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves, be sure to check it out. – Jessica Lavery
Los Campesinos! – Whole Damn Body
Everyone on Earth is releasing B sides these days, the age of the “Deluxe” Album. These extra songs usually aren’t even C sides. But on the other hand, this trend has allowed artists to get a bit freer about releasing old stuff that was never released, and has gotten artists that are legends to release “new” tracks that they recorded a decade ago. Because these artists are SO good, (and also because you never can tell as the creator what song will be the most popular) these B sides are not only great B sides, they are better than most true new releases. Yes, T Swift did it too. Stay tuned for later in the list, but let’s give Los Campesinos! their due, because the 7 tracks they released from the Hello Sadness recording sessions, released as Whole Damn Body are one of my favorite releases of the year of any kind.
If you don’t know, Los Camp!, they are one of the emo/indie/twee UK bands that came around in the US in the mid-2000s and shook the world up with their fresh take on the rock sound. While Arctic Monkeys remain mega stars, and others have had varying degrees of success, it would be a mistake to think that any had a bigger affect on lyric writing and song structure within worldwide rock music than Los Campesinos! And somehow despite this early and exceptional success, they have continued to write new songs that kick ass, supposedly they are even working toward a new album. Listen to this for now and get hyped. – Henderson Cole
Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti
Every time Griselda (the upstate NY rap crew and label featuring primarily Westside Gunn, Benny The Butcher, Conway the Machine and Boldy James) adds a new member, I am a bit worried. Will this be the one that can’t keep up with their exceptional lyrical quality, and unreasonable rate of releases? Mach-Hommy is not that dude, and Pray For Haiti is the proof.
The album which discusses Mach-Hommy’s homeland of Haiti extensively in verse and samples, and is the lyrical effort you would predict from Griselda. However, Mach is able to stand out from the rest of the group with his unique voice and flow, but also his diverse beat choices. The opening track “The 26th Letter” uses a loop of a trumpet (?) that is incredibly simple yet untraditional. The following track is a looping twinkly piano arpeggio (?), and then the 3rd, the single with Westside, is a complex beat that feels like a Twilight Zone episode about Boom Bap. Throughout the rest of the album Mach makes equally unpredictable choices, lyrical, instrumentally, and within the samples and features. Just when you think you have an idea what Mach is and what he wants to say about Haiti and the world, he buzzes you with a fastball to the head to make sure you’re still awake. “It’s murder season again” – Henderson Cole
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