Albums I've heard from 2021 - ranked

*A lot of these are just first impressions and are subject to change*

Not on this site yet:

47) ‘Some Kind Of Heaven’ - Ari Balouzian (below ‘L.W.’ - King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard)
48) ‘Vegetable Soul’ - Louie Zong (below 'Some Kind Of Heaven’ Ari Balouzian)
58) ‘Long Division’ - Doc Rhombus (below 'I Told You So’ Delmar Organ Trio)
60) 'Desert Moon' - Ronald Jones (below ‘CARNAGE’ - Nick Cave + Warren Elis)
69) ‘The Democracy! Suite’ - Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra + Wynton Marsalis (below ‘FLOWERS For VASES / descansos’ - Hayley Williams)
148) 'Songbook' - Louie Zong (below 'Kanawa’ Nahawa Doumbia)
156) ‘Absolute Flake In The Forest' - Sunburned Hand Of The Man (below 'Heaux Tales’ - Jazmine Sullivan)
165) ‘Fiction’ - LIT. MAJOR (below ‘Life Support’ - Madison Beer)
180) ‘ScanD Vol II’ - Matt Draugos (below ‘The Book’ - YOASOBI)
213) ‘Brabuhr Q-Ih’ - Love Horses + The Jaffa Kid + Whylis + Bot1500 (below ‘Ghost Tapes #10’ - God Is An Astronaut)
215) ‘Only Your Favourite Glitches’ - Never Get Used To People (below ‘ZAPPER’ - Nanoray)
230) ‘Captions’ - Maxi Millz (below ‘ Acquainted With Night' - Lael Neale)
240) ‘Heartworm’ - Ben Eales (below ‘Super Momster’ - Claud)
260) ‘One Wave 2’ - JAY1 (below ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ - Arlo Parks)
266) ‘Road Angel Project - Vol. 5’ - Daedelus + Michael Andrews + Gabe Noel (below ‘Songs For The Drunk And Broken Hearted’ - Passanger)

Emile Mosseri - Minari (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1.
This is so beautiful. The well paced simplistic and concise arrangements are filled with contemplative bittersweet spaciousness that completely hypnotised me. I loved the recurring motifs. It’s incredibly moving and atmospheric. This release sent shivers down my spine and almost made me cry. I don’t need to see this film because it already played in my head. Thank you for a beautiful experience.

This is the third album I have heard this year that I would happily call amazing.
Midnight Sister - Painting the Roses
2.
Funky and atmospheric art pop with clever and effective instrumentation. The album has just the right amount of quirkiness. It sounds like a lazy day. I LOVE the horns, bass, strings, pacing and production. This album celebrates the joyful side of music before taking on a darker mood in the second half. It reminds me a little bit of David Byrne and The Flaming Lips. There are some truly transcendental and beautiful songs here. My only complaint is the breathiness of the vocals. I will be coming back to this a lot.

This is the first album I've heard from 2021 that I would happily call amazing.
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
3.
How do you follow up one of the greatest electronic albums ever made? You make one of the most hypnotic, atmospheric free-jazz inspired epics of course. There are so many beautiful climaxes that made my jaw drop. This is such a magical experience. It transported me to another dimension. I love how it blurs genres and makes it challenging to tell what instrument is playing. I LOVED ‘movement 6’ onwards! However, I’m still not sure how I feel about the repetitive chords and odd ‘scat singing’. (Although I’m sure I’ll warm to these elements). I definitely need more time to appreciate this album. I will be coming back to this A LOT.

This is the second album I’ve heard this year that I would happily call amazing.
Otay:onii - 冥冥 Míng Míng
4.
These songs are experimental, post-industrial, atmospheric, and noisy epics. I love the layering of textures here. For some reason this album makes me feel like I’m dying... There are some astonishingly beautiful and unique moments (like the switch up in ‘Child No.22’) on here that make it stand out from other releases.
JVNUS - YEARBOOK
5.
WOW. What a powerful and honest rap release. It feels like an insight into this guys life. This is so smooth. I love the lyrics. The beats are PHENOMENAL. It reminds me of old Kanye. It’s honestly hard to fault this release.
Parannoul - To See the Next Part of the Dream
6.
Very high quality well paced Korean shoegaze. It has such a beautiful atmosphere that can make you cry and smile at the same time. It has PHENOMENAL drumming and contains gorgeous walls of sound that are trademark to the genre. What makes this release stand out from others is it’s simplistic bittersweet melodies. It makes it easier to enjoy. My only complaint is that it’s a bit ‘samey’.
Christian Löffler - Parallels: Shellac Reworks By Christian Löffler
7.
This is pure beauty and warmth. The music is incredibly emotional. It masterfully mixes ambience and electronica with elements of classical music. The best of both worlds. I love the production on this. The ending blew me away. I will be coming back to this a lot.
Nubiyan Twist - Freedom Fables
8.
Afrobeat, R&B, and electronic production are a match made in heaven. The grooves on this are insane. I love the trumpet work.
Casper Clausen - Better Way
9.
WOW. There are SO many INCREDIBLE ideas here. The builds and organic progressions of the songs are beautiful. I love the unique production. It sounds like it’s falling apart as you hear it. Unfortunately, the best bits would often take a backseat in the climactic moments - sometimes picking less interesting notes at crucial moments. If this wasn’t the case, this might have been among my absolute favourite albums.
C. Tangana - El Madrileño
10.
WOW, I was not expecting this to be this good. The mood this creates is so beautifully bittersweet. Latin rhythms and instruments mix perfectly here with modern production. I feel it would have been a better release if it was less 'poppy' and autotuned, but who am I to complain.
The Notwist - Vertigo Days
11.
Every single track on this has an amazing build. The only bad thing about the album is it’s lack of consistency because some of the grooves go on without changing for too long. Other than that, it’s amazing. The dark edge of the album from the electronic elements is very enjoyable. It turns what would otherwise be a cool indie rock/folk album into a more complete project with a fuller more atmospheric sound. It sounds a bit like Radiohead (so of course I like it).
Animal Collective - Crestone (Original Score)
12.
This sounds like a much needed next step in AnCo’s career. They have built on the enchanting ambience of Tangerine Reef by making it less alien and allowing Deakin and Geologist to focus on making it spacious and dream-like. It reminds me a lot of Sung Tongs and Feels. The album itself is more about the mood it puts you in and less about the individual track quality. I’m glad that AnCo are finally moving away from the very chaotic Centipede HZ / Painting With sound. Hopefully they explore this new sound more, and Avery Tare and Panda Bear are involved in the next release.
Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett - Her
13.
Arcade Fire's knack for melody and atmosphere translates beautifully into this warm and inviting simplistic score. A very pleasant and enjoyable experience. 'Morning Talk / Supersymmetry' and 'Photograph' are amazing moments on the album. (Weirdly enough, this is my favorite release I've heard from them!)
Lost Girls - Menneskekollektivet
14.
Beautiful, unique, thoughtful, and well paced electronic art pop with INSANE grooves that are reminiscent of 90’s Björk. This is pure brain food and makes for a unique almost ‘out of body’ experience. Although coming off as fairly pretentious and self-indulgent at times, I believe that is because of the complex topics the album discusses. These are - the theme of blurred lines, how difficult it is to define things, and the intertwined nature of self, music, sensuality, and being (at least that’s what I got from it - I could be wrong, and I feel like I am, yet, I also feel that it doesn’t matter - it was my experience). These thoughts are difficult to articulate, and the fact that they’ve included errors and a sense of searching for the right words makes it more human, down to earth, and relatable. This album got a hold on me without me even noticing. Before I knew it, it was too late and I was completely entranced by its hypnotic sounds. I LOVED the beats, synths, and production. It’s always a good sign when an artist can make a 15 minute song that doesn’t ‘go stale’. Needless to say, I’ll be coming back to this a lot.
Rats On Rafts - Excerpts From Chapter 3: The Mind Runs A Net Of Rabbit Paths
15.
This post punk rock journey is an incredibly warm and inviting one, it filled me with a slightly nostalgic feeling in a way that only music can. An incredible experience. I wish the album maintained the continuous flow of the first few tracks, or found a better way to place the punkier tracks. I love these kinds of 'storytelling albums'. This is definitely a full album experience which I will be coming back to a lot. Beautiful.
For Those I Love - For Those I Love
16.
Irish guy talks very personally about loss, life, and love over less interesting Jamiexx instrumentals. A combination with inconsistent success.

It’s high points are gorgeous and contain a James Blake esque warmth which has had me coming back a lot. It’s low points are not as good... but still have some merit. I see why this is such a divisive album.
Balthazar - Sand
17.
THIS COVER🥵🥵🥵

High quality indie pop rock with awesome choruses and electronic sensibilities. Very tight grooves and beats that keep you interested and bobbing your head along.
Altın Gün - Yol
18.
The groovy middle ground between Tame Impala and Khruangbin. An enjoyable listening experience. Great synth work, great bass lines, and great production. It’s hard to imagine someone hating this.
Bell Orchestre - House Music
19.
This is an intense yet beautiful adrenaline inducing large scale post rock composition that sounds exactly like it looks. Basically a 43 minute song. This does mean that you can't really listen to individual tracks out of context (which doesn't matter to me, but just a heads up as its extremely applicable to this release). Nevertheless, It's a very impressive, well instrumented, and dynamic epic. It takes incredible creative talent to create a project like this. I especially liked the bass work, it drove the music forward in a way that was reminiscent of Radiohead's 'The National Anthem'. When I took off my headphones, i was surprised to see that the world had not ended.
IAN SWEET - Show Me How You Disappear
20.
Dreamy indie noise pop rock. Great guitar, beats, and percussion. I love the emotion on this. It just nails the vibe so perfectly. I’m impressed. The pacing of the songs are amazing, but I wish some of the singing was more powerful. It reminds me a bit of Spiritualized. ‘Get Better’ is a gorgeous song.
Gacha Bakradze - Obscure Languages
21.
I love this kind of spacious ambient IDM. It has a lovely mood that is reminiscent of a late night walk. I also like that this album sounds so grounded whilst also having elements that sound completely alien. There is so much contrast here, yet it works so well together. I really like the warmth this gives off because of its swelling drone/bass sounds. I also like the unexpected twists and turns this album goes through. I will be coming back a lot.
Genesis Owusu - Smiling With No Teeth
22.
BRO..... This is good. The beats, instrumentation, and mood are very good. If you like hip hop or neo-soul, go listen to this NOW. I’m impressed.
LICE - Wasteland: What Ails Our People Is Clear
23.
This unique, well textured, and chaotic post-rock release is pretty all over the place. It has some beautifully dark and 'crushing' moments, but the spacing between everything leaves you with no room to breathe or take in the quality music. Most of the tracks don't follow any logical structure. For some reason, I can’t stop coming back to this. I keep getting more and more out of each listen. It feels like a masterpiece that I don’t quite understand yet.
Mermaid In China - Wild and Pretty Games
24.
Does everything a good dream pop album should do. Not too memorable or consistent overall, but when it works, it’s truly phenomenal.
B. The Leo - Happy Shapes
25.
Childlike joyful music. It reminds me of an extended more groove based Louie Zong. I love the airy and playful synth tones and melodies. The beats are actually really good. 'Good Time' has some of the best rap lyrics I've ever heard, it really connected with me and stopped me in my tracks. The album sounds like it started off as a fun quarantine project, but evolved into something more. Someone lovingly nurtured this album and brought it up as if it were their own child. Go give this baby the love it deserves!
Roosevelt - POLYDANS
26.
Quality synth pop that simultaneously reminds me of Tame Impala and Daft Punk. The only bad thing about it is that it gave me a sore neck from bobbing my head along too much 🤣. This is another one of those albums that’s hard to dislike. It’s just so bright and upbeat. Yet it covers a diverse range of emotions. ‘Forget’ is basically ‘Thriller’ but modernised. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a popular pick for AOTY.
Late Year - late year
27.
Starts off sounding like someone made an album from Gec instrumentals and fleshed them out into pleasant little ideas, then turns into well produced funky wholesome energy. I’m enjoying this way too much, it’s so fun! It packs so much variety into such a small amount of time. If you have a spare 20 minutes, there is no reason not to give this a try.
James Yorkston And The Second Hand Orchestra - The Wide, Wide River
28.
WOW, what a beautiful acoustic folk album. This has some stellar musicianship. It features some compelling production choices which makes this stand out from other releases in the genre. The album evokes a very specific mood in a way that only music can. The songs aren't too memorable or original but the listening experience is. This will definitely grow on me.
Fashion Bird Danger Danger - Phanerothymes
29.
Psychedelic electronic prog-rock? Honestly I'm not even sure. This was an experience. It reminded me a bit of a more warped version of Klangstof or The Flaming Lips. I love how this played around with time, structure, and my ideas of what direction the music might go in. This has some GREAT grooves and is a uniquely surreal full album experience. It pulled from so many areas to make for some beautiful moments. The last track is interesting... If you like the bands I mentioned above but are looking for something more surprising, unpredictable, and progressive, give this a listen. All I know is that I liked it and I will definitely be coming back a lot.
Iglooghost - Lei Line Eon
30.
You can't tell me this isn't Björk and Arca. This well paced quality deconstructed club / IDM release is strangely beautiful, and very unique. The production and string work on here is GORGEOUS. I love just how alien the soundscape is. It's got just the right amount of chaos, just as the tracks are about to fall apart, it sticks itself back together in an incredibly intriguing way. These moments are very impressive and interesting, but it's done a bit too often and unfortunately starts to lose it's impact and becomes tiring. Still a great listen.
Cory Wong - Cory and the Wongnotes
31.
It sounds like a TV presenter is about to come in and say ‘live from the studio, it’s *Insert funk band here*!’. I guess that makes sense though. SLAP THAT BASS. My GOD the horns on this are spot on. Just a solid release all around.
Adrian Younge - The American Negro
32.
Easily the most important release of 2021. This takes a deep dive into the what it means to be black in America. It celebrates black culture and history, it talks in depth about racism and its many forms. It’s presented as a thoughtful and well crafted blend of spoken word and enjoyable jazzy R&B. If this list was more ‘objective’ (for lack of a better word) this would easily be at the top.
SG Lewis - times
33.
Damn, is this by Gorillaz? Because it made me Feel Good inc. Great quality smooth feel good dance music. It made me dance along from start to end. Some of the individual tracks have bad vocals, but that doesn’t matter when you’re dancing.
Seijaku - Dingir
34.
This is a very high quality mix of alt rock and folk rock. The instrumentation is very good. I like how spacious this release is. The transitions are a really cool feature. It feels like it makes the right decision whenever the music could change a little bit. Every element is just so solid that it makes it hard to fault the album. I guess the album is a bit samey, but the other elements make up for it.
City Light Mosaic - Restless Ego
35.
Pure unfiltered sadness. This is dark, noisy, electronic, atmospheric and incredibly powerful. It’s almost disturbingly moody. This left me speechless. I definitely need more time to process this, I’ll be coming back to this a lot.
Loathe - The Things They Believe
36.
A very cohesive ambient release with some stand out moments. It creates a luscious living world for your ears to explore. This has some of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. However, it is so cohesive that everything gets a bit too ‘samey’ at times. It reminds me a bit of Sigur Rós’s 2019 releases (which I also enjoyed). Now I want to devise a piece of theatre with this album playing alongside it.
Karima Walker - Waking the Dreaming Body
37.
This album is a living and breathing entity. It’s truly beautiful. It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling through it’s lovely spaciousness. It’s so mysterious and intriguing, the more you open up to it, the more it reveals. Unfortunately, the balance of ambient tracks and sung tracks isn’t quite right in the second half of the album.
Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains - Banane Bleue
38.
A beautifully atmospheric record. Although underwhelming most of the time, it has some gorgeously spacious moments that will have me coming back again and again. It’s all so serene.
Still Corners - The Last Exit
39.
I’ve come back to this album a lot. It’s mood is so chill and breezy. Very enjoyable tracks. Pretty consistent.
Sam Gendel - Fresh Bread
40.
(I know this is technically a compilation, but it feels a lot like an album, so I’m counting it as one). It is like a jazzier more spacious and chilled out electronic version of Bjork’s ‘Utopia’. It feels like it’s purpose is to be strange and alien, and it does this very well. Although it’s length means that the tracks will often pass by without you noticing and blend into each other, it is still a very pleasant listening experience. Very cool abstract stuff.
Femi Kuti - Stop the Hate
41.
I’m a sucker for this kind of afrobeat. There are a lot of good jams on here, but they are a little bit too focused and tight, they lack the unpredictability of some of the better releases in the genre. Nevertheless, this is very well executed funky and complex dance music with a political lense. The larger ‘Legacy+’ release just includes what sounds like a b-sides half and makes it needlessly lengthy.
Cacola - A Gift to Us All
42.
Long and relatively chilled breakbeat and edm. This has some GREAT moments. This feels very ‘scatterbrained’ because it shifts from one idea to the next at breakneck pace in the same song. It caught me off guard when it sampled Muse. I’m not sure what this is trying to be, but I like it.
Dialect - Under ~ Between
43.
A calming electro-acoustic experimental release. I loved the piano work on here. I really enjoyed the unique instrumentation choices and STELLAR production and mixing. It effectively built an intricate world for me to discover. This is a very secretive album that slowly reveals its unique beauty.
Michał Anioł - U
44.
This album is a pretty consistent collection of groovy synthy electronic music with VERY danceable beats (that always come in at the perfect time) and a great tone. I love the albums slightly uplifting mood. I also like how it doesn’t feel as cluttered as a lot of other dance music. The singing is nothing special, but it compliments the instrumentals very well. It does just enough to get you bopping along.
The Ruins of Beverast - The Thule Grimoires
45.
Space rock + black metal is an amazing combination. This is such an epic record. It's got a great bleak atmosphere. I don't like the voice, but it matches the aesthetic perfectly. I love the lighter, more atmospheric moments. The changes this album goes through are incredibly enjoyable and unique and will probably have me coming back.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - L.W.
46.
Basically just K.G. again. Still a good full album experience. The singles aren't as good though. I hope they change up their sound for their next release. I'm getting kind of tired of 'bluesy' microtonal desert rock.
Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt - Made Out Of Sound
47.
‘When do they stop tuning their instruments and start playing the music?’

Nah, fr though this album is a collection of very loose and emotive jams focused on texture and mood. I especially liked the drum work on here, everyone had complete artistic freedom and I admire that. It makes for some gorgeous and unique moments that are reminiscent of Captain Beefheart’s work. However, I feel that these people are approaching the songs with a complete musical understanding rather than no understanding. This is such a unique and fascinating style of music. I feel like people will either hate this or love it. I enjoyed this and will probably be coming back a lot.
Hannah Peel - Fir Wave
48.
Electronica with glimpses of a more classical / traditionally instrumented perspective. I love the spacious arrangements present throughout the album, they felt like moments to breathe and take in the music in the constant ebb and flow of the album's sonic landscape. I was very excited for this release, and I'm glad I wasn't too let down. Although it sometimes gets a bit samey and drawn out, there are some stand-out moments such as the harshness of the first track and the build in 'Emergence In Nature' that make up for it. I wouldn't recommend listening to the full album, but I would recommend listening to select tracks.
Piana - raula
49.
Basically just this emoji - 🥺 in musical form. It reminds me a bit of the more uplifting ‘poppy’ Sigur Ròs sound.
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