Favorite Music of 2021

by Jessie Lynn McMains

My 12 Favorite Albums and EPs Released in 2021

Anna B Savage – A Common Turn
Soaring vocals, music that is somehow both sparse and expansive, achingly beautiful lyrics. Favorite track: Corncrakes.

Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
Take the existential dread of some of Nick Cave’s work and mix it with a wry and decidedly Scottish sense of humor. Favorite track: Fable of the Urban Fox.

Bam Bam – Villains (Also Wear White) EP
The best proto-grunge you’ve never heard. Tina Bell was one of the best front women ever, and I’m so glad she’s finally getting her due. Favorite track: Stress.

Bridge City Sinners – Unholy Hymns
Dark folk punk with a jazzy shuffle? Satanic punkgrass? All of the above, and more. Devilish fierceness and dancing while your world burns. Favorite track: Pick Your Poison.

Buffalo Nichols – Buffalo Nichols
Classic blues from a Milwaukee-born artist. Vocals and guitar and sweet sad lyrics, with the occasional percussion or fiddle (and in one case, a full band) to round it out. Favorite track: How to Love.

GG King – Remain Intact
Very reminiscent of a lot of old school punk, without being at all derivative. There are elements of garage rock, mid-tempo hardcore, even rap. Favorite track: Cul De Sac.

Ghost Machines – Time Enough At Last EP
The new EP from Kenosha’s own hip-hop duo Ghost Machines. The words are poignant, the rhymes are clever, the beats and samples are perfect, all of it has a hard edge. Favorite track: Henry Bemis. (Pssst, they put on a great live show too, so once this CoViD nonsense abates a bit, go check ‘em out in person.)

King Woman – Celestial Blues
Beautiful doom. A distorted, heavy, theatrical story of fallen angels and feminine revenge. Favorite track: Coil.

Nancy – 7 Foot Tall Post-Suicidal Feel Good Blues
Psychedelic glam? Bizarro pop? T. Rex on hallucinogens? However you describe it, this so-called mini-LP is fucking rad. Favorite track: 7 Foot Tall Post-Suicidal Feel Good Blues.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – CARNAGE
Nick Cave sings poetic 21st-century prayers in search of God and love amidst the horror; Warren Ellis builds the atmosphere. These songs are dark moonbeams and rainy tears falling on a balcony at the end of the world. No easy answers, but a bit of hope despite everything. Favorite tracks: Old Time and White Elephant.

Nuha Ruby Ra – How to Move
Experimental post-punk, nearly operatic at moments. Favorite track: Run Run.

Viagra Boys – Welfare Jazz
Swedish post-punk with a distinct bent toward dirty garage rock. Favorite track: Ain’t Nice.

Other 2021 LPs and EPs I Dug

Do Nothing – Glueland EP
Favorite track: Rolex

Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
Favorite track: Scratchyard Lanyard

The Hold Steady – Open Door Policy
Favorite track: Family Farm

Joe Strummer – Assembly
Favorite track: all of them, but right this second it’s Get Down Moses

Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Favorite track: Point and Kill (feat. Obongjayar)

The Lounge Society – Silk for the Starving EP
Favorite track: Valley Bottom Fever

Rules – The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City
Favorite track: God Hates Flags

Shungudzo – I’m Not a Mother, But I Have Children
Favorite track: It’s a Good Day (to Fight the System)

Single Mothers – Bubble
Favorite track: Delete Voicemail

Yard Act – Dark Days EP
Favorite track: The Trapper’s Pelts

+ 1 Album Released in 2020 which I Listened to Approx. 100x in 2021

Einstürzende Neubauten – Alles in Allem
Favorite tracks: Ten Grand Goldie and Seven Screws

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