Favorite Albums of 2021 (So Far)
We’re about halfway through the year and so far, it’s been a great six month for new music. Stuck at home, I’ve often had headphones on for eight hours a day, music constantly playing in the background as I work. I always put together a top ten list at the end of the year but wanted to highlight a few albums that have stuck with me in 2021 so far, included here in no particular order.1
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Hit or Miss - Alexander Biggs
Alexander Biggs is a newish to me artist from Melbourne mixing lo-fi folk with narrative lyrics that remind me of The Tallest Man on Earth, Joshua Radin, and even a bit of Bright Eyes. Early singles from this album were a balm for me a year ago, as we settled into quarantine, sounding both familiar and new, making me nostalgic for late night drives and simpler times. Hit or Miss, his debut album, was released early in the year and one I can’t stop coming back to.
Cry Forever - Amy Shark
Shark is another Australian I just discovered this year, yet is apparently prolific back in her home country. Cry Forever is a simple pop album that feels like both Taylor Swift with hints of Lorde. The opening track, The Wolves, is a stunner and she doesn’t let up through the rest of the album.
New Long Leg - Dry Cleaning
Easily in contention for my favorite album of the year — and certainly my favorite new band of the last few years — Dry Cleaning’s new album is a post-punk gem mixing spoken word and non-sensical lyrics. This album has sustained me through many working sessions the last few months.
if i could make it go quiet - girl in red
Both the albums from girl in red and Olivia Rodrigo take me back to high school in ways I didn’t know I wanted. This is a loud, fun, and infectious album about love and loss and growing up. “Seretonin” and “You Stupid Bitch” are favorites and best played as loud as possible.
Sour - Olivia Rodrigo
I know I’m basic (I did put Taylor Swift as my favorite album last year) but this I can’t get enough of Olivia Rodrigo. I was hooked the first time I heard the heartbreaker “Drivers License” but did not expect to like so many tracks from her debut album. The track “1 step forward, 2 steps back” especially should not be overlooked.
As The Love Continues - Mogwai
I’m not sure what to say about this one. It’s Mogwai! I’ve loved this Scottish post-rock band for the better part of a decade and their latest album was on repeat during many late-night working sessions at the beginning of the year. A perfect winter soundtrack.
Promises - Floating Points, Pharaoh Sanders, London Symphony Orchestra
This collaboration between ambient producer Floating Points and jazz saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders completely blew me away. It’s best listening to late at night with headphones: great production, layered textures, a steady build. There have been many days this year where this is the first album I put on each morning.
Alongside the Promises, I’ve been listening to tons — as always — ambient albums while writing, editing, and reading. The new albums from Abul Mogard, Divide and Dissolve, Spencer Brown, Claire Rousay, and Daniel Bachman have been on heavy rotation. I’ve also been enjoying the new albums from Lucy Dacus, mehro, and Bachelor but they are so new it’s hard for me to definitively include them here.
Heading into the second half of the year, I’m very much looking forward to the new albums by Bleachers, Lorde, and Big Red Machine. The singles from all three of these bands — of which I’m longtime favorites of — have been excellent. I’m excited. What are you listening to?