Entering the second-half of 2021, things feel a bit more optimistic than they have in the past sixteen months and as we hopefully head to better days ahead, these are my favorite albums from the year so far.
Music has been a crucial lifeline during the pandemic and an amazing comfort. These albums have all felt special and I believe would be just as impactful even if the world wasn't on lockdown. There have been some wonderful collaborations, returns from past greats, rising sensations with stunning new work, and continued brilliance from veteran artists as well.
01. FLOATING POINTS / PHAROAH SANDERS | Promises
An unlikely pairing between a jazz visionary and an electronic wizard team-up with the London Symphony Orchestra for something truly sublime and out of this world.
02. JULIEN BAKER | Little Oblivions
Baker's full-band record where she still plays everything herself is her is a true accomplishment and advancement of her sound.
03. CASSANDRA JENKINS | An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
Jenkins emerges with a profound record of self-reflection that feels like a healing solution for all of us led be her balm of a voice and delicate soundscapes.
04. JAZMINE SULLIVAN | Heaux Tales
In just under thirty minutes, Jazmine Sullivan creates a world that is uniquely her own, full of creative output that doesn't box her in and really displays the power of her voice.
05. SAULT | Nine
The mysterious UK collective behind two of the best albums of 2020 are back yet again with an percussive-heavy afro-beat, soul, funk, and R&B jam that once again feels extraordinary and beyond measure.
06. DINOSAUR JR. | Sweep It Into Space
The legends return with their best work in a decade that feels precisely like what you would expect. It's loud, noisey, but exceptionally crafted and never intimidating.
07. GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR | g_d's pee AT STATES END!
For a band that is so shrouded in darkness and the looming feels of the apocalypse, this might be their most optimistic and triumphant sounding record yet.
08. ICEAGE | Seek Shelter
Honky tonk punk from a band that continues to push their sound beyond their hardcore past. The "woo" on "Dear Saint Cecelia" is also one of the best musical moments of the year.
09. MDOU MOCTAR | Afrique Victime
Nigerian psych-rock that feels both futuristic and retro all at once and takes on some of the biggest and best guitar sounds of the year. Feels like an instant classic.
10. CHRIS CORSANO / BILL ORCUTT | Made Out of Sound
Recorded separately by Corsano and Orcutt, this improvised record comes in swells and takes unexpected turns. It's easy to see how the guitarist followed the sound waves of the drums to create a record totally of the moment and without expectations.
11-30 in alphabetical order:
ANNA FOX ROCHINSKI | Cherry
ARLO PARKS | Collapsed In Sunbeams
ARMAND HAMMER / THE ALCHEMIST | Haram
BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD | For The First TimeCHRIS CORSANO / BILL ORCUTT | Made Out of Sound
CZARFACE / MF DOOM | Super What?
DAWN RICHARD | Second Line
ENUMCLAW | Jimbo Demo
ERIKA DE CASSIER | Sensational
JAPANESE BREAKFAST | Jubilee
LUCY DACUS | Home Video
MIA DOI TODD | Music Life
NASIMIYU | Potions
NICK CAVE / WARREN ELLIS | Carnage
OLIVIA RODRIGO | Sour
SERPENT WITH FEET | Deacon
SLEATER-KINNEY | Path of Wellness
SQUID | Bright Green Field
SUN JUNE | Somewhere
TYLER, THE CREATOR | Call Me If You Get Lost
VIJAY IYER | Uneasy