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Best New Music 2021


englishbob
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10 hours ago, ngchol said:

Hi everyone - I’ve put the 2021 Favourite Albums list thread up - it’s pinned to the top of the forum -

 

https://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?/topic/324427-rllmuks-favourite-albums-of-2021-list-thread-open-until-31-december/

 

It’s a few days earlier than usual as I’m in the middle of moving house and didn’t want to forget it! Please do contribute, even if it’s only two or three albums - there’s been such a lot of great new music this year 😃


Thanks for organising this as always. Feel like my list is a tough one this year. So much good stuff I’ve listened to. 

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On 10/11/2021 at 20:06, englishbob said:

There hasn't been that much this year that has floated my boat, then in the last few days loads have dropped out of the sky from nowhere (along with the CasIsDead track), which gives me some hope 2022 will be a better year

 

 

Not sure if she's new to you but she's wonderful and really versatile. Contrast that song with these two. Same Damn Luck was my favourite song of 2020. 

 

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The first cut from the new Marillion album has really impressed. There's a real "no shits given" vibe from the band these days.  As in they really are just creating the music they want to create and saying what they want to say, there's no pretensions at scoring a single or playing to the fans or critics, they're just letting the creativity rip right through them:

 

 

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I just posted my Top 10 albums list after combing through my Spotify library. I've only actually purchased one physical album this year (some obscure Brazilian electronic jazz - it didn't make the list). I'd enjoyed more albums than I thought though, always a pitfall of streaming I feel; not being able to remember them well.

 

01 - Liquid - Spacemonkey (original vinyl release was 2019, digital release was 2021)
02 - STR4TA - Aspects

03 - Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

04 - Lone - Always Inside Your Head
05 - Brijean - Feelings
06 - DJ Seinfield - Mirrors
07 - Flying Lotus - Yasuke
08 - Yu Su - Yellow River Blue
09 - Om Unit - Acid Dub Studies
10 - Chimpo - Outside

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7 hours ago, acidbearboy said:

I just posted my Top 10 albums list after combing through my Spotify library. I've only actually purchased one physical album this year (some obscure Brazilian electronic jazz - it didn't make the list). I'd enjoyed more albums than I thought though, always a pitfall of streaming I feel; not being able to remember them well.

 

01 - Liquid - Spacemonkey (original vinyl release was 2019, digital release was 2021)
02 - STR4TA - Aspects

03 - Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

04 - Lone - Always Inside Your Head
05 - Brijean - Feelings
06 - DJ Seinfield - Mirrors
07 - Flying Lotus - Yasuke
08 - Yu Su - Yellow River Blue
09 - Om Unit - Acid Dub Studies
10 - Chimpo - Outside

I've only listened to 2 new albums this year so am going through other people's and picking albums to listen to and add to my own before EOY.This Floating Points one is superb, love it.

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Hi everyone, just a quick reminder that the RLLMUK favourite albums poll runs until 31 December - you can post your list here:

 

https://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?/topic/324427-rllmuks-favourite-albums-of-2021-list-thread-open-until-31-december/

 

Every vote for a new or reissued 2021 album counts, even if you've just got one album you really liked this year!  

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Man, 2021 was a TREMENDOUS year for music. Discovered so much weird and wonderful stuff this year that rounding it down to 10 feels unfair. Thanks to @ngchol for both putting this together and for hipping me to some great LPs that just missed my 10.

 

Easy choice for my number one. Holy fuck, where has this been all my life? It's so me. This lush, ghostly, kaleidoscopic, fucking magical house music. It's ridiculous, but I must have welled-up four or five times listening to this thing. It's so pretty and bittersweet. Also, playing Makin' Magick II while half-way to sleep with the headphones on was an otherworldly experience. A personal all-timer.

 

 

 

 

 

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To accompany my top ten this year, I've added a few samples and comments. :)

01 - Soen - Imperial

 

 

 

Imperial has proven to be an absolute banger of a follow up to 2019’s Lotus and is appearing atop of many prog metal fans top ten lists of the year. Throughout their early career, Soen struggled to escape from the Tool-lite label, but with Lotus and now Imperial, the band have clearly defined their own sound, pushing the drums and bass to the fore, to give their metal foundation a modern, tribal twist.

 

 

02 - Evergrey - Escape Of The Phoenix

 

 

Sweden’s progressive metal stalwarts Evergrey, continue on their frankly incredible string of recent releases. First single, Where August Mourns, encapsulates everything this band is loved for, head banging metal with dramatic weight and Tom Englund’s unmistakable vocals. Probably my favourite individual song of the year.

 

 

03 - Beast In Black - Dark Connection

 

 

Beast In Black are a band who have seemingly decided to just have as much fun in this business as possible. From their power metal roots, the beast has since evolved into a cyberpunk blend of power metal, electronica and synth pop... I mean at what point do the genres stop meaning anything. lol

 

 

04 - Frost - Day & Age

 

 

 

Frost* were originally set up by brit pop hit maker, Jem Godfrey back in 2006, as an outlet for his creative ambitions. Frustrated that most music which was considered “progressive” sounded like a pastiche of the 70’s prog legends he grew up with, he asked himself what a prog band would sound like, which was focussed on making the most of new technology and production techniques. The result was Milliontown and when it landed, it was widely considered to be one of the most important releases the genre had seen in years.

Once you’ve shown your hand like that, it’s near impossible to replicate the impact again, so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with every release, Frost* have continued to hone their craft. Ironically, Day & Age is probably their safest album to date from a creative perspective but also one of their most consistent. The final track, Repeat To Fade, is a mesmerising blend of rock, operatic backing vocals and this dirty, thick bass sound punctuated by what can only be described as the pinging of a submarine. It shouldn’t work but it does and that’s the magic of Frost*.

 

 

05 - Ray Wilson - The Weight Of Man

 

 

 

Ray Wilson, the one time Genesis frontman has gone on to build up an incredibly rich solo career. There’s a real maturity to this release, both in the lyrics and songwriting. It's not flashy and you'll find little to hum on the bus after listening but the album has a real smouldering energy to it, it suits a late evening play with a glass of wine in hand.


 

06 - Poverty’s No Crime - A Secret To Hide

 

 

Prog metal’s part time heroes, Poverty’s No Crime have had a great year, releasing one of their best albums to date. They're not reinventing the wheel here but there's a confidence to this album which shines through. Some of the albums best bits are in its quieter moments, where sections are joined using unexpected sounds and styles. A favourite moment is where the main theme of Hollow Phrases is drummed out on what sounds like a hollowed out wooden surface, it's a nice effect and leads into the keyboard crescendo nicely.

 

 

07 - Leprous - Aphelion

 

 

A beauty of an album which further refines Leprous' unique sound. Leprous have always been defined by their unusual melodies, majestic arrangements and Einar Solberg's softly spoken vocals, which roar into life at the most unexpected of moments. Almost operatic in many of their arrangements, Leprous have carved out a unique place for themselves in the prog space and with Aphelion, they have packaged their sound into a few more slightly more accessible songs, which will hopefully open them up to more listeners.

 

 

08 - Dream Theatre - A View From The Top Of The World

 

 

With A View From The Top Of The World, Dream Theater have found their creative guts again and whilst there’s nothing here which will flip expectations on their head, the majestic suite of songs which form the title track, showcase the band at their progressive best.

 

 

09 - Zeromancer - Orchestra Of Knives

 

 

 

Zermoncer’s long-awaited 7th album, is also their most mature to date. Lyrically, the album centres around the recent personal loss experienced by members of the band during the writing process. The bands trademark industrial rock sound has been mellowed to meet the darker themes of the album and whilst it can’t boast the sort of anthem driven hits which earned them their biggest successes, across the ten tracks the band remain true to their industrial sound but cast it in a more fragile, personable light.

 

 

10 - Steven Wilson: The Future BItes

 

 

 

Steven Wilson’s latest release has stirred the pot amongst his proggy fanbase. Accused of being a fairly light selection of pop songs by many, I think this sells the album far too short and diminishes the variety of tracks and outstanding production values. Tracks like King Ghost and Man Of The People have real heart to them and Twelve Things I Forgot has been a strong playlist favourite this past year.

 

Spoiler

If you’ve never heard of Steven WIlson or Porcupine Tree before, then I’m just including another vid below as during the lockdown, he did these session videos, where he would perform some of his best known songs, by playing each instrument, then editing them together, so he’s in split screen playing a solo performance of the song. I think this piece of music is amongst the best he’s ever written:

 

 

 

Honourable mentions, Yes: The Quest, Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe and Garbage: No Gods No Masters

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A longer write-up of my favourite albums of 2021 and a playlist with tracks from all of them in a specially picked nice order (which I have listened through too!)

 

Indie/Alternative

Faye Webster - I Know I'm Funny haha I learnt of this album backwards after reading an interview which she namechecks Mei Ehara Ampersands (check it out - its great - it was one of my absolute favourites last year) and Animal Crossing as influences. From the very first track it absolutely shows, massively. But I knew I'd be woo'ed by the pedal steel guitar (which in the context gives both Hawaiian and country vibes), nonchalant singing, and it has some of that Americana style too. Perfect Sunday music.

Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee Since the lead single it was clear as day this was going to be the album that catapulted Michelle Zauner into the mainstream. The progression through the albums is self evident - from slightly lo-fi on Psychopomp, to fuller brass arrangements and driving rhythms on Soft Sounds, to now really beautiful string arrangements bringing all that past stuff along too. 'Tactics' feels like the centre of the album and musically emotional gets me every time.

Vanishing Twin - Ookii Gekkou If you like Stereolab you will like this. Bits of the Oh Sees too. Rhythmic and interesting throughout.

 

Pop

Kero Kero Bonito - Civilization A collection of two EPs (of which Civ 2 was released this year) its just Nintendo kids making really solid pop with not-so-secret social conscious applied. Album closer is some track though with the water effects sounding like a Peter Gabriel test of your Hi-Fi setup.

Magdalena Bay - Mecurial World I don't know or care too much on all the aesthetic presentation of this group - the album is so tightly produced synth-pop from another era. The two tracks included below are my favourite and the way they mix into each other is fantastic.

Lou Hayter - Private Sunshine A really solid album - I've followed Lou's stuff post NYPC through various side projects (Tomorrow's World/The New Sins) and singles (some included here) so the cohesion of this LP was a fantastic surprise - solidly in that 70s to 80s pop world with some touchstones of a Steely Dan cover, cover of a one-hit wonder, and a wholesale sample of a so deep cut from Aussie 80's band - Arvo 

Altin Gun - Yol Dutch group with Turkish singers - a real clash between the traditional vocals and very pristine production. Like a Turkish Gorillaz.

 

Garage Rock/Psychedelia

Parquet Courts - Sympathy for Life Parquets Courts shift their sound slightly again - punkier spiker tracks are all there but interlaced with longer more rhythmic cuts sounding not too dissimilar to Talking Heads, or !!! (chk chk chk). This should have been a slam dunk for me, but it outstays its welcome just a little bit

The Liminanas & Laurent Garnier - De Pelicula Tarantino garage rock vibes for a film that doesn't exist. Very French. Very motorik.

Ty Segall - Harmonizer always good value and dependable. Guitar is tempered by the electronics here and therefore is just-heavy-enough for me. 

 

 

Balearic/Dance/World

Brijean - Feelings Not an album I thought would stick with me, but its just short and breezy, calm summer weather.

Conclave - Conclave Another really textured album of jazzy funky keyboard breaks, soulful cuts, breakbeats.

 

Japanese & Korean

YeYe - Otona Early YeYe was very twee. Last years release was a real eye-opener on how rhythmic she had become. More melodic and clear instrumentation really drew me in. Otana is a 7 track EP with half of the tracks as collaborations - it was totally jarring at first hearing a rapper on smooth jazzy piano track but this album just works. Its a flex into some new fronts but still has space to pair back tracks to the bare minimum. Her best album. 

SHE IS SUMMER - DOOR  Mico is another artist I've followed for a very long time (since Phenotas and split) and she has had some Youtube algorithm luck but is often chasing sounds. This is the first album that feels honest. Got some really leftfield diversions from the usual sugary pop songs from the BritPop sounding Holy House and house beats on Jellyfish. Hopefully not a one-off.

Yerin Baek - tellusboutyourself If you want a good starting point into Korean music this is a very friendly place to start - all in English and some really familiar genres - bits of RnB, 80's slowdance, funk, 2-step, garage. 

Yukika - timeabout, The best City Pop release of the year 

LOONA - Hula Hoop / Starseed EP LOONA had another strong varied year but it was the Japanese debut that really hit. Hula Hoop is pure serotonin and a chorus that is so thematically silly that would never work here ("I can make you dance around me like - a HU LA HOOP! HU-LA-LA! HU-LA-LA! HULA HOOP!). And Starseed is pure anime magical girls opening song material and a perfect fit.

Red Velvet - Queendom Super solid and a good reminder of their sound after such a long hiatus. Harmonies galore, percussive catchy choruses, breakdowns and left-turn switch-ups, playful raps, deep vocal raps (!), and ad-libs all over the shop.

 

 

 

 

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