Anyone who says this year — or any year — is a bad year for music needs to listen to more music. This year was a great year for pop, hip-hop, “rock,” ambient, jazz, ambient jazz, and pretty much any genre that’s not trip-hop (though that Tricky album was okay).
Here are my favorite albums of 2021, in no particular order:
Archie Shepp/Jason Moran — Let My People Go
His Name is Alive — Hope is a Candle
For Tracy Hide — Ethernity
Celer — In Light of Blues
Serpentwithfeet — DEACON (probably my album of the year, tbh)
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders — Promises
Armand Hammer/The Alchemist — Haram
Nils Frahm — Graz
Kishi Bashi — Emigrant EP
Godspeed! You Black Emperor — G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
The Armed — Ultrapop
Sons of Kemet — Black to the Future
Jayda G — DJ-Kicks: Jayda G
Navy Blue — Navy’s Reprise
Backxwash — I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
Lightning Bug — A Color of the Sky
2nd Grade — Wish You Were Here Tour Revisited
Sault — Nine (no longer available to listen to)
L'Rain — Fatigue
Spellling — The Turning Wheel
Stone Temple Pilots — Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (reissue)
Dave — We’re All Alone In This Together
Cleo Sol — Mother
Men I Trust — Untourable Album
Little Simz — Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Low — HEY WHAT
Grouper — Shade
Dijon — Absolutely
Best Songs of 2021
Here is a playlist of some of my favorite songs from 2021, also in no particular order. I think it’s sequenced really well for a “BEST OF” playlist. There’s a BTS song on it, too. Get over it.
I’m missing a lot here, as there were tons of good songs — including loads of songs from the albums above. (Many of those songs will admittedly not sequence well in a playlist, and the playlist can’t be days long.) “Woman” by Little Simz/Cleo Sol, “Silk Chiffon” by Muna, and “Handsome Man” by Wednesday were probably my favorite songs of the year by far, but that might just be recency bias.
A Note About Apple Music
All links are on Spotify only now. There. I said it.
Apple Music is really good, and Amazon Music, Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, and even YouTube Music are all great. But most people use Spotify, and I only have so much time to put these together. I use Spotify now almost exclusively, even though I still have an Apple Music subscription through Apple One.
Spotify is decidedly way more evil of a company than Apple (or even Amazon) purely from a music industry perspective, but their app, curation, algorithm, and wide adoption make implementing them in this email way easier.
Happy New Year to you and yours.