Friday, December 31, 2021

Best Music of 2021

Well, 2021 was a little better than 2020. 

Actually, it was probably quite a bit better, but the thing that brings it down a notch is that "Is this thing ever going to end?" question that keeps hanging over our heads. I honestly don't know the answer, but that's all I'm going to say about it. 

I do, however, want to point out one more pandemic upside that I neglected to mention last year. I really bonded with my sister, to the point that she pretty much texts me about the Yankees every night during baseball season. In fact, I'm not really sure if she realizes I live out of market and don't have an MLB.TV subscription -- although maybe I should -- so I don't watch every game. But, beyond her newfound baseball obsession, she really has become my best friend. Not that we weren't close before, but I really feel like we've become even closer and that's pretty awesome, because she's my only sibling. 

2021 was also the year Little Chuck really developed an interest in music. Well, in one band, that is. He's become an AC/DC fanatic, and he and I have really bonded over that. He's even helped me decide that, while I've always been partial to Bon Scott over Brian Johnson, I like the latter as a singer better. It's just that the Bon Scott material is more consistent and stronger overall. 

While I'm on the subject of AC/DC, another thing I missed last year was that Power Up, AC/DC's 2020 release, was probably their best album since Back in Black, and probably year-end list-worthy. 

Anyway, on to the music of 2021. I'm only ranking the top 20 this year. My philosophy for the past I-don't-know-how-many years has been to just cut off the rankings at the point where I feel the albums are worthy of acknowledgment...although I have to admit a predilection toward round numbers, so that's why it's not a top 18 or a top 21. 

As I've done in recent years, I'll present this as one continuously updated post, so be sure to check back for more. Oh, and I hope you and yours have a happy and healthy new year. Thanks again for paying attention. 

20. The Black Keys - Delta Kream

19. The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy

18. The Weather Station - Ignorance

17. Middle Kids - Today We're the Greatest

16. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility

15. Sturgill Simpson - The Ballad of Dood & Juanita

14. David Crosby - For Free

I was as surprised as you are. 

13. Hiss Golden Messenger - Quietly Blowing It

12. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Way Down in the Rust Bucket (Live)

11. Lucy Dacus - Home Video

10. CHVRCHES - Screen Violence

9. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Carnage

8. The Reds, Pinks and Purples - Uncommon Weather

7. Big Red Machine - How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last? 

6. James McMurtry - The Horses and the Hounds

5. Julien Baker - Little Oblivions

4. Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

3. Pinegrove - Amperland, NY

My pal el squared says I turned him on to Pinegrove back when Cardinal was my #3 album of 2016, but his early year obsession with this album influenced me to become somewhat obsessed with it as well. It spent most of the rest of the year as my #2 album, although I occasionally considered bumping it up to #1.

2. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings

At one point during the pandemic, I decided I should mail order some albums from a different indie band each month. The each month thing didn't last, but The Besnard Lakes were the first purchase I made, and this album was my frontrunner for album of the year from the day it was released until it was bumped from the top spot by a late October release. 

1. The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore

The aforementioned late October release puts The War on Drugs in a category with Pernice Brothers and Cloud Cult as the only bands to reach album of the year status twice in the 26 year history of my list.