BRUNO MARS & ANDERSON. PAAK: AN EVENING WITH SILK SONIC
ROB ZOMBIE: LUNAR INJECTION…
MAXO KREAM: WEIGHT OF THE WORLD
WAR ON DRUGS: I DON'T WANT TO
FLOATING POINTS: PROMISES
20 CONVERGE & CHELSEA WOLFE: BLOODMOON
What happens when metal core heroes Converge decide to create an album that’s unflinchingly heavy but with the somber, chilling accompanying vocals of Chelsea Wolfe as an extra feature? The answer, otherwise known as “Bloodmoon,” captures the versatility of the band, while engaging in a sort of gothic presentation as Wolfe’s dark, ominous voice attempts to overcome the surrounding darkness. Maybe not one of the bands best, but the experimentation and the degree difficulty make it definitely worth a listen.
19 PARCELS: DAY/ NIGHT
For a band from Australia, Parcels sure does sound like they could be of European descent, especially when you factor in the connection they have to Daft Punk. Regardless , on the bands new second album Parcels find themselves embracing even more the worlds of funk, R&B and even disco leanings into a stylish yet long album. It’s 82 minutes long, yet each track is so well sequenced and produced that you feel like you’ve just stepped into a band that’s made up of multiple different sounding bands, all rolled into one.
18 GASPARD AUGE: ESCAPADES
As part of Justice, Gaspard Auge became one of the leading electronic musicians over the last fifteen years. With his proper self titled debut, “Escapades,” Auge took the skills learned and refined over the years and developed an album that sounds like Justice, but with a bit more soul from Auge, who conceptually was alone in the making of this record. Essentially, if you like Justice, I’d be surprised if you don’t find something worthwhile on this record
17 ORLA GARLAND: WOMEN ON THE LOOSE
With her debut album, folk pop upstart Orla Garland has crafted a sincere, leaven at times too sincere and blunted wrapping her frustrations in delicate instrumentation that gives her soft voice room to grow. From the opening of “Things That I’ve Learned” all the way to the oddly upbeat finale of “Bloodline/ Difficult Things” you learn so much about the world Garland is living in, and it’s exhilarating to experience.
16 NATION OF LANGUAGE: A WAY FORWARD
With only two albums under their belt, Nation of Language, helming from Brooklyn, seems destined at this point to be the next big indie infused pop band. The music isn’t really Pop, but it’s not entirely indie either. Instead the three piece decide to blur the lines between the dark dingy atmosphere of a dive bar and the illuminating brightness of a city’s skyline.
15 VALERIE JUNE: THE MOON AND STARS
I talk to plenty of people about music, obviously, but Valerie June and her “Moon & Stars” record doesn’t make it into as many conversations as I’d like. With her natural, laid back approach , the Memphis late bloomer (this is her 6th album) seems finally poised to get the attention she should’ve been getting for years now. Her voice is smooth, often reminiscent of gliding air through a vivid garden, and over the course of a fourteen song record June shares a musical knowledge and understanding that’s more lustrous and beautiful than any garden.
14 SHANNON & THE CLAMS: YEAR OF THE SPIDER
In this current era, we’ve seen more than a few musicians take the most slog route in their instrumentations and music, but there’s very few who do it as well as the Shannon Shaw led Shannon & the Clams. Their sixth record, “Year of the Spider” glitters with olden sounds, at points experimental, trippy, or just down right groovy and seductive. Shaw’s voice has that smoky charm of old school legends like Joplin, but with the fine tune and an actually good voice. At 38 minutes it’s not a long commitment, but every minute is worth it.
13 THE JOY FORMIDABLE: INTO THE BLUE
I think what I like most about Joy Formidable, other than their rhythm section, is how they’ve matured in their music and presentation of that same art. “Into The Blue” opens with the roaring title track, while other songs like “I Gotta Feed My Dog,” have drums that accompany Rhiannon "Ritzy" Bryan vocals in a haze of synth effect that make the track and album so enticing.
12 ZAHARA: PUTA
In all the years of writing these lists, I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved to an album from a totally non English speaking creator as I was the excellent “Puta” from Zahara. This artist has been making records for nearly two decades overseas where he’s apparently very well known, but I never really heard the name until this year. Which is a shame, because the beats far overpower the need for understanding of the language. You can tell it’s sincere and emotional, and sometimes that’s really all you need when an album is this good.
11 GOJIRA: FORTITUDE
EVERYONE WATCH OUT! IT'S GOJIRA! FROM… France? Yeah you read that right. One of the best metal bands of the last two decades is named after a terrifying Japanese creation. Even so, “Fortitude” is another in a long line of great, relentlessly melodic metal the band has been steadily releasing for 20 years. They’ve opened and played for enormous crowds, and like their predecessors, “Fortitude” had area anthems ready to be blasted, like “The Grind” for instance. If you like metal and don’t know about Gojira, then you probably like metal less than you think.
10 LIL NAS X: MONTERO
In literally two years Lil Nas X has traversed the world of country and appropriately made them more woke and in line with the current world, while also captivating the world of Pop music in a major win for music but also acceptance. “Montero” captures X’s latest two years in a burst of music so energizing it’s hard, nearly impossible to avoid m. It’s positive in a way that few newer entertainers can match. The music is also better than most rap or pop music currently being made. I wasn’t a fan two years ago, but I honestly can’t wait to see where Lil Nas X goes next.
9 JUNGLE: LOVING IN STEREO
On their third album as Jungle, lead guitarist/ vocalist Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland on lead bass and vocalist have redefined what modern funk and soul should sound like. This is probably the best album they’ve made, and frankly, it fills me with warm feelings as the gentle instrumentations whirl amid a sea of optimism and soul.
8 YOLA: STAND FOR MYSELF
Mixing country with soul, and then slathering a thick lustrous voice on top of that wam goodness, Yola dominates the forty-six minutes of “Stand for Myself” with ease though would make Adele blush. I really fell in love with her vocals from the first listen, and the more I delved into the world of Yola and her addictive voice, the more in love I fell with her. This is a record perfect for early mornings, the park on a gorgeous day, or just something to blend into the background.
7 LUCY DACUS: HOME VIDEO
Oh to be young. Naive and to learn the hard way. When listening to the sublime new record from Lucy Dacus, those are the thoughts creeping through my mind most often. Her soft, vulnerable voice beckons out over the mix as her guitar gently strums, only adding to the tension permeating from “Home Video.” Songs like album opener “Hot & Heavy” welcome you to Dacus’ universe, while “Brando” stands up against the best modern anthems regarding growing up and facing the real, often viscous world.
6 BLACK MIDI: CAVALCADE
For a band that exploded onto the indie scene not even 3 years prior, Black Midi have already released two earth shatteringly loud, raucous records. The opening moments of “John L” crash like chaos, while many of the other songs, such as the foreboding uneasiness of “Diamond Stuff” show you just what they can do when pushed to perfection. Probably the best new band of the last 10 years, with two sublimely good albums under their belt.
5 NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS: CARNAGE
For the last five or so years, Cave and Ellis, often alongside the rest of the Bad Seeds, have been making some of the most moving, somber music I've ever heard. This time around it’s only Cave and Ellis, yet it feels very much like an official NC & TBS record. It’s wildly imaginative with how the vocals are mixed, and sung, while the unique instruments presented offer a very dark but ornate collection of music. The best moments for me are the three song sections of “White Elephant,” “Albuquerque,” and finally “Lavender Fields.” All three are slower tracks with varying degrees of emotional turmoil, but Cave's voice almost always is able to make a person feel a certain way, which oftentimes Cave and company want you to feel. another raw album from this prolific living legend.
4 PINK SWEAT$: PINK PLANET
The last of the R&B stylings to make this list, it’s also the best. I never really enjoy these types of records, but David Bowden and his record “Pink Planet” is way more in the vein of Prince than any other artist I can think of. He’s not totally comparable to the great one, yet, but this album is well mixed with the sound, backing tracks are spot on, and the overall message is one people should hear more often. Bowden’s voice is elegant, purposeful, and full of heart and soul in a way most singers not named Frank Ocean are capable of doing these days. If you want a record for a quiet, romantic evening with someone, I’d stop looking. I found it for you.
3 HALSEY: IF I CANT HAVE LOVE…
For most, the name Halsey is enough to warrant a desire to listen. For me, a near forty year old music snob, the interest became existent with the addition of Trent Reznor & Attitcus Ross, currently known for Nine Inch Nails and multiple excellent created film scores. With the pair's help, Halsey imagined an album muddied on pop music as heavier industrial beats fight to change the scenery. A few of the songs are slower, more intricately built, while others, such as “Easier Than Lying” or “I am not a woman, I’m a god” soar with industrial tinges and Halsey signature sultry, indie ice voice.
2 CHVRCHES: SCREEN VIOLENCE
Since the early days of their first album, all the way until now, Glasgow’s own CHVRCHES have rarely stumbled, with the limited exception of 2018’s “Love is Dead.” Instead, they’ve continued to make strong electro pop, but there’s something different this time around. Lauren Mayberry and her vocals, as well as her lyrical content, is far more open and strong than she already was previously, but “Screen Violence” finds the vocalist battling with the well known beauty standards of the word, her mistakes, her wins, and all the things she’s learned not to do as she navigates the brutal world of the music industry. Even with the help of legends like Robert Smith in the track “How Not to Drown,” the band doesn’t really do much wrong on “Screen Violence,” which lands at number three.
1 POND: 9
Another one from Australia, Perth's own Pond began as a side project for Tame Impala members, but on 9, the bands ninth album, Pond created a world free of hassle and full of inspired dance rock. Songs like “America's Cup” were made for dance floors, while more mid tempo tracks like “Take Me Avalon I’m Young,” bring the energy down a notch while focusing more on vocal performance. “Human Touch” is another one meant to get sweaty too as well. There’s plenty to unpack and get lost in during 9’s thirty-nine minutes, which is perhaps the most obvious reason it takes the number 1 slot for the Top 20 Albums of 2021.
Somehow, this year outdid 2020 for crazier shit, but at least we had music? I can’t speak for everyone, but this was the year I felt like I gave much more time to detaching from real world stresses through music than anything else. Below you’ll find a collection of the songs that helped me to work through this crazy thing called life. Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on instagram, facebook and Spotify. Thanks for reading.
It’s taken me too long to understand the excellence of Frances Gojira, but this year it finally made sense to me. Fortitude is full of future metal classics, but “The Grind,” which comes near the end of the record, has all the ingredients hardcore metal fans love. It has a bounce of energy circulating through it, and the voice of Joe Duplantier growls through the chorus like the best of the best. Gojira has steadily risen in the metal world for the last five or so years, and songs like “The Grind” are a good reason for that success.
9 SILK SONIC: BRUNO MARS & ANDERSON.PAAK
LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN: AN EVENING WITH SILK SONIC
I wasn’t born or even conceived in the 70’s, but goddamn does this song make me wish I was conceived to its glorious Melodie’s and vibes. I’ve never been huge into either of these artists, but there’s something so cool, confident and dare I say sexy about these two modern crooners making an album that’s as authentic and nostalgic as this one. If perfectly captures the romanticized idea we like to have of that decade, yet it never feels stale or redundant.
8 NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS
Dammit Nick Cave, why are you always making me cry? Anyway, if you’re a fan of Cave and longtime collaborator Warren Ellis, you probably know the last several years has seen the duo make compelling, deeply unsettling music. On this track, from their recent duet album, the pair continue to make somber, thought- provoking music that can make a grown man bend and break with the best of them. “Albuquerque” is unique in its instrumental approach, while Cave’s deep, smoldering voice does everything it always has, to extraordinary success.
7 MEGAN THEE STALLION
THOT SHIT, SOMETHING FOR THE HOTTIES
At this point there’s very little the public needs to know about Megan that we don’t already know. She’s fine as fuck, intelligent in a way much of the hip hop can’t seem to understand, not to mention her verses and word play are insane. Sure most of her tracks are about unadulterated feminism, the love of sex and being free in your own skin, but with those tracks come a women who is storming the industry, striking while the iron is hot, and flaunting her insane lyrical skills as well as her excellence visual performance skills.
6 GIRL IN RED
SEROTONIN, IF I COULD MAKE IT GO QUIET
Marie, otherwise known as Girl in Red, leaped into the indie pop pool this year, and while many hrs I rated towards her, “Serotonin” and its unflinching honesty certainly latched itself to my household. My wife and I loved this song, and while there’s plenty to enjoy from this album, there’s no song better than this one, which is why it lands at number six on the Top 10 songs of the year.
5 LUCY DACUS
BRANDO, HOME VIDEO
In the recent, more than welcome trend of heartfelt indie female performers, Dacus has become the next in the line of Mitski, Bridgers, etc in crafting thoughtful pop-ish rock that strikes the heart strings of many people, including myself. “Brando,” clocking in right at three minutes, exemplifies the burn of early love, naivety in the face of that love, and the knowledge of being a certain way for certain people, and how easy it is to get wrapped up in those emotions. Lucy’s voice is reserved but to the point,which makes the song all the better and emotional.
4 PINK SWEAT$
It’s only been in the last several years that I’ve gotten more into R&B, but Daniel Bowden, aka Pink Sweats can write a song that’s equal part love and loss, and “17,” is a perfect example of the type of swooning and seduction you get throughout the album. Borden’s voice is easy to get lost in, and the gentle instrumentals lifting up the song are easy going while still being emotionally impactful. I listened to this song and album many times this year, and I hope this type of output continues, because Pink Sweat$ might be the future of classic R&B making a big comeback.
3 BILLIE EILLISH
HAPPIER THAN EVER, HAPPIER THAN EVER
This album mostly missed the mark for me, but our number threetrack of the year, “Happier Than Ever” somehow makes up for the rest of the record. It starts slow and solemn, with Billie's voice cracking and desperate as she tries to escape the bullshit of her current scenarios. It’s a gentle ball upfront, but as the emotions explode so does the musical energy form the songs. The closing section is not quite arena rock, but it has everything that an emotional record finale needs to stick it’s landing, which it does brilliantly.
EASIER THAN LYING: IF I CANT HAVE LOVE…
It’s amazing what the addition of two excellent producers can do for a pop star looking for a sharp change in musical tone. With this record, Halsey, along with Reznor and Ross, created a classic collection of songs that play on her strengths. “Easier than Lying,” with its underlying tension and complicated relationships, brims with intense anxiety, uncertainty, and a killer instrumental section to boot. On an album consistently great and genre pushing, “Easier than Lying” stands out even among the best moments of the record.
1 JAPANESE BREAKFAST
BE SWEET, JUBILEE
As 2021 events began to become more clear and organized, the release of Michelle Zauner's
second major Japanese Breakfast album was one of the things I was most excited about. Yeh album is good, not amazing though, but “Be Sweet” is a masterpiece and a truly triumphant song. The guitar and synth parts are perfectly shaded under the strength of Michelle’s voice, but the positivity and optimism of her voice is enough to make this the Top Song of 2021.
TOP ALBUMS COMING SOON!
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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